Slamming One Door Closed and Opening a New One

Dream Vacation Logo

In one month from now I will be hanging up my Learning Development career, and jumping in with both feet into the travel business with a new franchise business. Some have asked if I’m sad about leaving training, and I respond, no, just disappointed.

The past 12 years I’ve been consulting and the primary reason I left the corporate world for a life of self-employment was so that I could leverage my time better and help more organizations get the most out of their training efforts. I found so many broken training functions that it encouraged me to publish two books on the subject of fixing the training function and I really thought I would have work for life.

Finding clients that actually wanted to fix their training functions has been my life’s obsession for the past decade, and while I have uncovered a lot of good leads, there have been very few organizations that put their money where their mouth is as the popular phrase goes. Often we would agree on the challenges, the solutions and that I was qualified to do the job, but few wanted to fix their problem. Nearly all of the time I found that leaving it broken was not going to hurt their career. No harm, no foul, so why bother?

Making a career change from what has been a deep passion of mine for 27 years turned out to require some help. I lucked out with a great franchise coach that worked with me for several months and she discovered that next to training, I loved to travel. And not just fly around to one hotel after another, but cruise vacations. I know cruising like the back of my hand, have sailed on 40 cruises, and take pride learning all I can about the different cruise lines and ships.

So after looking at a few options for getting into the travel industry, I landed on an old and respected organization called CruiseOne, part of the bigger World Travel Holdings organization. My wife and I purchased a newer brand of CruiseOne called Dream Vacations. Once I understood the value I could bring to people shopping for a dream vacation, I knew I had found my second passion. In some ways it is a lot like performance consulting as the more you understand about what makes a great vacation for your clients the better solutions you can offer.

Probably one of the biggest changes I am looking forward to is not having to convince people of the right path. With a vacation, the right cruise for example is just being honest with expectations. Training options always included cheaper but less effective ways to train so the outcomes differ greatly. With a cruise, you can have a great time no matter how cheap or expensive your choices. You are buying memories, and my job is to make sure you get as many memories out of the available time you are on vacation.

While my training business will remain open, I will not be looking for new clients. I remain available for past clients as a way of thanking them for their support these past 12 years. But for those of you that failed to act after 12 years, the reality is you never wanted to support me or your employees. But you can always buy my two books on Amazon or go to for more information.

Look for updates on our new Dream Vacations business the end of September 2017!

Bon Voyage!

Putting Out To Pasture


Have you ever wondered how people find themselves put out to pasture from a job or career they love?  Was it their choice, or was it something else that caused it to happen?

I’d like to believe that one is put out to pasture when what they provide in the way of skills are no longer current or helpful.  Because these skills became dated and the individual no longer sought development to keep current, they were no longer serving a purpose.  They were no longer useful to their company, or any company for that matter.

Yet, what happens when your skills are applicable and current, but simply not valued?  Now we may be getting to a reason for being put out to pasture through no fault of your own.  Companies that would rather settle for less experience to save money, and roll the dice to see if they can get the same outcomes, put talent out to pasture.

Some 27 years ago when I got into the training development profession, I was working for a major bank that spent a lot of time, attention and money on employee development.  We were no different than any of the big banks when it came to development.  Yet back then even the small to mid-sized banks found ways to develop their employees.

Fast forward, and today the big banks have cut way back, and the small to mid-size train only required compliance to their employees.  When once it was the responsibility of the company to build skills they wanted their employees to have, now it is reversed, and the employee better figure out how life work’s on their own to survive.  Thank goodness for YouTube!

So when it comes time to hire a Training Director, a regular trainer or a really nice person will fill the ticket.  No need to understand how to manage people and processes, or think strategically, or even discuss adult learning principles, just make it look like we have a training function.  And if we have a choice, being a subject matter expert is more important than having a training background at all.

After a year of trying to convince companies that a well run training department can return many times over the investment, I have decided that it is time to put myself out to pasture.  Twice I was told that only female candidates would be considered, and I lost count how many times I was told that industry experience was vital to running a training function.  Then much to my amazement the fact that I had been consulting with various industries over the past 10 years meant “I didn’t know how to work in a corporate environment anymore” (25 year old recruiter) I decided to stop trying to convince people that experience matters.

But while I am going to stop trying to make the world better for learning development, I have not decided to retire either.  I am launching a new adventure in the travel industry.  And if someone ever wants to tap my skills for training, this old horse will come back to the training barn in a heartbeat.

Purple Squirrel Seeks Purple Job


There is a term used by recruiters when being asked to find candidates that match a long list of requirements and only those that meet every single requirement can move forward. It is a search for a “Purple Squirrel.” The first time I heard it I found it absurd to think that management would put a recruiter through months looking for a perfect fit while the job remains open and unproductive. Yet I am told that it happens a lot.

Managers looking for a “Purple Squirrel” are not concerned with the missing role going without a person for months on end. In other words, either the job duties are insignificant to the operation, or management feels no regret in dumping the extra workload on the remaining people. While it happens that some jobs function well without an employee, most of the time if you are searching for candidates, you also need to hire someone too.

We are all “Purple Squirrels” with a list of talents, skills and experience. The difficult part is finding the “Purple Job!”  It used to be that it was encouraged to apply for a job even if you personally could not check off every single box on the job description. Yet have you noticed that when you do, the automatized system rejects you within second of submitting your application. Sometimes you receive the reject email before you receive the thank you for applying email.

Clerical Recruiters often are the ones that spend their time looking for a “Purple Squirrel” while experienced recruiters will spend more time with the hiring manager resetting expectations. Then they seek a good, but not perfect fit. Good recruiters will remind management that experience allows the job or expectations to change and the new employee will more easily adapt to the new focus.

While I wish the world employed less clerical recruiters that are in their first job themselves a lot of the time, and more recruiters that have had to manage processes and people before, that dream seems to be out of reach at the moment. Hence, this is why this “Purple Squirrel” is looking for his very own “Purple Job.”

Is There a Way to Get a Job Offer and Be Honest?


I have a reputation for being productive, and I hate spending time on activities that at best only provide window dressing for my function’s work. In fact I am a lousy window dresser because I do very little to show off because I am focused on getting work accomplished and moving the organization forward.

You might think that my brand of employee would be something that a lot of employers would be seeking, but sadly I am still looking for an organization that actually wants to build workplace competencies in their team members and understands the value of a focused learning function. When I meet with people to discuss what kind of potential they have in front of them with the right training leadership, I get these scared to death looks in return.

I’ve been told that to get a job offer, I need to down play my work ethic, and to barely speak of the potential for learning beyond the job description. Once I’m in the job I can work on building out over time bigger expectations. To these recommendations, I am completely at odds with deception and downplaying the benefits of a focused approach. I’m not being true to my own work ethic by playing the part of an underperforming employee.

My opinion is that the interview process should be honest. I know, silly me, right? But shouldn’t the employer know what kind of employee they are getting before they make an offer? So if I am unable to play games with my abilities, I am faced with limited opportunities. There are fewer organizations today than even 10 years ago that understand the purpose of a training function. Many leaders land up creating limitations for the training function because they don’t realize the potential.

My dilemma is that I want to work, and yet I find it challenging to be the perfect fit without being a skill more than is thought to be necessary. The minute I start to stand out I am “over qualified” and when I go in with just enough background I run the risk of “not being as qualified as another applicant.”

Any ideas?

“Diversity Candidates” Need Only Apply


A Retained Search Executive Recruiter was advertising for a VP of HR that would be focused on the talent management, development and succession planning for his client’s organization. All interested parties should contact him directly for more information. And so I did.

He quickly responded to my application that they were only looking at “diversity candidates” and if that changed he would be back in touch.

What the heck does he mean by “Diversity Candidates”? And, so I emailed him back wondering if he was looking for a particular ethnic background, race, gender or language competency. I fully expected him to ignore my question, but he replied”

We are only looking at “Female” Candidates!

What the heck just happened? Did this person just tell me they are openly discriminating based on gender? What the heck happened to Equal Employment Opportunity? Oh, and this is California, where we have some of the toughest employment laws in the country!

I’ve since talked with a couple of HR Directors, both female, and looking for new opportunities, and both said they would have nothing to do with an organization that openly discriminated in hiring of all jobs the VP of HR. They also said the company is hiding behind the Executive Recruiter so if there is any fall out he has to take the heat.

So I replied to the recruiter to see why this client felt the VP of HR needed to be female. He actually emailed me back that the “company leadership is currently all males and they thought it would be a good idea to get a female’s point of view”, and that he personally thought “most females would find this a positive to be brought into a team that is willing to bring in ideas from women.”

I cannot believe it is almost 2017 with this kind of condescending nonsense being spouted off. However, what concerns me most is this is the second time in the last 90-days that I have been told that although I have the required experience and skills I am not female, so unfortunately I cannot be considered.

So what do you all think about this approach to recruiting?


Is Your Product Quality Suspect?

thT8EBKFKNIf you manufacture a product for sale, are you certain that the people you have working for you are capable of creating and maintaining the quality of the design?  Are you certain that the new employees being hired have the right competencies to perform their work responsibilities?

I ask these questions because I recently ran across a company that has taken great pride in their brand and must maintain a consistent quality to the product to not only remain in business but to grow the business.  And yet, when I was reviewing the competencies of their internal recruiting staff, I discovered that they were unable to read a resume or their internal applications and determine if the applicant had the required competencies.  What I discovered was they were turning away qualified people from moving forward to an interview.

Instead of understanding what they needed this person to do, and comparing it to what they had done in their past work experience, they were looking for exact title matches.  It didn’t matter if the person could and had performed specific tasks before, if they had not had a matching title they went into the dead letter box.

It got me to thinking that people were being recruited without much certainty they could perform the work.  How does that help the company maintain product quality if they don’t hire the right people?  If you are a winery and hire people that only have experience in making soda, are you really able to maintain product (wine) quality?

My best solution would be that the hiring manager, who is responsible for quality control, sits with the recruiter and makes sure they know what kind of experience they are seeking.  Further, the hiring manager should review all applications and resumes that have been removed from consideration.  If the hiring manager agrees that these people didn’t have the right stuff, then you have no reason to suspect you are getting the right people to interview.  However, if you would have wanted to talk with any of the discarded applicants, it is time to review your hiring process.



Equal Pay Can Be A Double Edge Sword

equal pay

I firmly believe that a person should be earning the same salary for the same work no matter what gender they are, and yet, this equality comes at a price. That price is often the difference in getting or not getting an offer of employment.

Having lost a few jobs recently to women who have less experience than I do, I started to notice a rather odd coincidence. I am calling it a coincidence because I really don’t want to believe it is the reason they were chosen over me. However, having compared notes with a few other colleagues looking for work, both men and women seem to agree with my unfortunate conclusions.

For some jobs, it is the price of compensation that makes the real difference. Experience is seen as a costly choice, and one that can be traded for less compensation along with less experience. For employers who believe that women will accept lower compensation to get an offer, they lean toward hiring and negotiating with women. One of my executive recruiter friends said that women will often accept or negotiate lower salaries to get the offer and employers lean toward those candidates.

He further said that women that know their worth and have strong negotiating skills are often put in the same pile as their male counterparts. Only if an employer cannot find their bargain hire, do they start sifting through this second pile of applicants.

So if you are open to accepting lower compensation, you have a much better chance of getting a job offer. But if you are not, then you remain unemployed. While the goal for every applicant is both employment and equal compensation, when the choice is employment over unemployment, compensation takes a back seat.

While I cannot yet see where mandatory laws to force equal pay for every job is a winning proposition for anyone, I am also not ready to concede that leaving things as they are now is such a winning proposition either. When we accept lower compensation as a trade for employment, we are doing ourselves harm. But if we need a job, maybe the tradeoff is worth it.

What are your thoughts?